My name is Kelsey Henderson and I am the former Miss Massachusetts National teenager 2014, but my story begins years before winning this title. I am also a former all-star cheerleader. Cheerleading was my life, my friends and my family. I had been doing it since i could remember. Unfortunately in my sophomore year of high school i injured my back. I was told i could never cheer or play sports again. As you can imagine i was devastated. I had never done anything else, and at the time i didn’t think i wanted to. After months of not knowing where to go from there, my mom came up with the idea of trying a pageant. I was skeptical at first because i knew that for some girls pageants were like cheering for me. They had been doing it their whole lives. Finally i caved and signed up to compete for miss teen Massachusetts USA. It was one of the most thrilling, amazing experiences of my life. I fell in love with pageants right then and there. I only made top 15 but that didn’t matter. Winning was not what it was about. I then decided to compete for Miss Massachusetts National teenager, and i won! I couldn’t believe it. I got the opportunity to compete at the national pageant in Nashville where i won the people’s choice award. My experience with pageantry has taught me that people have it all wrong. They have these ideas and stereotypes when really pageantry is so uplifting and inspiring. If i can give girls any advice, its go for it!! So what if you haven’t been doing it as long as other girls or if you don’t think you’re good enough? That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the amazing friendships you make, the smile you have on your face after walking out in front of a huge crowd of people and the confidence you take away from it all. It’s about sticking to a goal and doing everything you can to get there. It’s about finding yourself and your capabilities. I certainly believe i found who i am because of pageants. They tested my limits and made me a better person. What i learned is don’t underestimate who you are and what you can do. You are amazing in your own way, it’s just a matter of learning to love yourself.